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Demand for low-income, senior housing drives nonprofit projects

A pair of nonprofits have proposed two affordable housing projects on the East and West sides of Buffalo, which will create 112 townhomes, apartments and senior residences at a total cost of $21 million.

The projects by an arm of Mt. Aaron Missionary Baptist Church and Hispanics United of Buffalo represent new efforts to meet a growing demand for housing among lower-income and older residents of the city.

That's been cited as an important gap by city officials. The projects, each valued at $10.5 million, will be reviewed by the city Planning Board on Sept. 11.

The church, through its Community Hope Builders CDC Inc. subsidiary, plans to develop Mt. Aaron Village at 695 Genesee St. as a 66-unit "infill project." It would include a three-story apartment building and a series of three clusters of townhomes arranged to create a courtyard with private parking and yard space, according to its application to the Planning Board.

The development would be built on 19 assembled vacant properties on the East Side, bounded by Genesee, Gray and Adams streets, and totaling 2.15 acres. The properties are owned by the city, which in December designated the church and its affiliate as the site developers. The city and the church signed a purchase agreement on Feb. 1, the documents say.

According to plans by Stieglitz Snyder Architecture and Tredo Engineers, the larger building would include one- and two-bedroom apartments in two wings connected by a central lobby, with the smaller wing set aside for seniors. The ground floor of the main building would also have a community room and support services.

Plans call for the building to wrap around the corner of Genesee and Adams streets, with brick facades and stone bases. Hardie board siding would be used in back. A portion of the street facade will step out at regular intervals, and each bay will have a covered porch at the ground level, the application said.

On the rest of the site, the two-story townhomes would be similar in design to the apartment building, but with a reduced scale as a transition to the regular homes on Grey and Adams.

A public hearing was held at the church in September 2016, and environmental studies were completed in the spring. The project needs an area variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for lot size.

Construction will be financed with New York State Homes and Community Renewal Housing Trust Fund dollars and 9 percent low-income housing tax credits. If approved, construction documents should be ready by November, with financing completed in January. Construction would start in March 2018, with completion in May 2019.

Separately, Hispanics United and Acacia Inc. wants to build its 46-unit La Plaza Senior Residences on four parcels of vacant residential land on Virginia Street. The properties, totaling 0.56 acres, are bounded by West, Virginia and 10th streets.

Also designed by Stieglitz Snyder and Tredo, the 60,000-square-foot project would consist of a three-story building and basement, with affordable senior housing, plus some commercial space and an outdoor courtyard. There's no onsite parking, but the nonprofit says it will provide off-street parking nearby.

The building will consist of two wings connected by a central lobby on the main floor, with two elevators, a stairwell and the main entry. All of the units will be one-bedroom apartments, with 10 on the first floor and 18 each on the second and third floors. The first floor will also have 7,000 square feet of tenant space for the nonprofit's use and another 7,000 square feet in the basement.

The site is already owned by the nonprofit. Environmental studies are in progress, and an area variance is needed from the Zoning Board of Appeals for lot size.

Construction, which would last 18 months, would be financed through a combination of state Housing Trust Fund money and low-income housing tax credits.

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